When Danny Steer first heard the sound of puppies yelping outside his house, he did not think much of it because of the number of dogs living nearby.
The Te Puke 17-year-old had arrived home from work at a kiwifruit packhouse at 11pm when he heard the cries while getting out of his car.
He went inside, but could still hear the howling and decided to go back outside to investigate.
Danny ran in the direction of the cries, into Donovan Park next to his house, and there, beside a stream, found five puppies struggling to get up a bank - two of them still in the water.
"I was like, 'oh my goodness, what the heck?'
"So I pulled the puppies up on to the grass and ran back to my house and called the SPCA," he said.
Danny had no joy getting through to the SPCA or the local council because of the time of night, so he decided to call police.
"I was quite nervous because I was thinking, 'Is this an emergency or not?'."
He apologised to the female call-taker who answered his 111 call, but said she was only too willing to help when she heard he was trying to rescue puppies.
"She was so nice and she said to me, 'you've got all the ladies' hearts here at the Auckland communications centre'."
Danny drove down to a bridge by the park and grabbed the puppies one at a time.
He had two in the car by the time police and a security guard arrived and together they found the rest of the puppies.
Danny yesterday visited the brown and white heeler-cross puppies at the Tauranga SPCA after the Monday night rescue.
He told the Herald he was tempted to keep the lot when he saw them but did not think his parents, who he lives with, would approve.
"I have two cats and we have a small property," he said.
The teenager's efforts were praised by police, who called him a "good Samaritan" and by Tauranga SPCA manager Matt Franklin, who said the puppies' fate could have been a lot worse if not for Danny.
"The animals certainly could have found themselves injured or worse if he hadn't intervened."
Tauranga SPCA is investigating whether the puppies, believed to be between two and three months old, were dumped or wandered away from their home.
Danny believed the four females and one male had been dumped because of the state in which he found them.
"When I first saw them they were really distressed and cold and shivering, and they were really frightened. It was so sad."
Mr Franklin said, whatever the case, the owner of the dogs had been irresponsible.
"We don't think puppies of that age should be found wandering around at 11 o'clock at night unsupervised.' 'The SPCA is now looking for homes for the puppies.By Juliet Rowan Email Juliet